What does it mean to think about embodiment without bodies? This essay pursues a question central to all categories of performance—theatrical and extratheatrical—in the early modern period. It explores that question by considering the actions assigned to performers by early modern plays, how the interplay of writing-as-algorithm with known bodily practices might enable interpreters to use the plays to assess the limits and purposes of commodified embodiment—acting—as means to a wider, historical understanding of embodiment. Attending to the embodiment implied by cue-scripts, by affectual speech and speaking, by the penchant for drawing attention demanded from actors, the essay suggests the plays archive a radically mobile, incessantly focalizing, self-dramatizing impulse to embodiment that indexes a way to read the anxious behavioral repertoire of early modern living.
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W. B. Worthen; Undeadness. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 1 September 2021; 51 (3): 497–507. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10829636-9295044
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